Take my word for it. Hmm…

Advice is dicey, isn’t it?

And it isn’t even just the words…it’s how it’s delivered and to whom it is given.  We’re not talking batting around ideas together.  We’re talking ADVICE!

Let’s assume it’s a perfect world.  I have suddenly been blessed with 3D supersonic insight and know exactly what is needed.

Scenario 1:

My friend is telling me her problems.  She hasn’t really asked for input, but there’s a certain expectation with bosom friends that if she is telling me, she would welcome input and ideas.  So we go back and forth for a bit.  I tell her similar experiences I have had, she shares her feelings, I offer a solution and she says, “Wow, what a great idea.”  Or she tells me the results when she already tried that.   Or she lets me know in words or actions that she is just going to follow her own instincts and see what happens.

No big deal.

Scenario 2:

My daughter (or could be my son) is telling me her problems.  She hasn’t really asked for input, but lulled by a sense of camaraderie, I share my similar experiences.   Maybe she’s thinking…”But why is this about you?”  But let’s say there’s a positive response, and she shares her feelings.  I have an immediate compulsion to make it better.  I offer a solution…blah, blah, blah.  Same drill as with my friend.

Different response.

On my child’s part there is resistance and a sense of inadequacy.  “I was just trying to vent to my Mom and suddenly she thinks she has to take over.  She doesn’t think I’m capable.  She has never approved of me.  I’m an adult and she’s treating me as if I’m a child.  I didn’t ask for advice.  What would she know anyway, she doesn’t REALLY know my life.”

On my part there is anxiety.  It kicked in the minute I heard about my child’s pain.  No longer was I being casual and caring.  I wasn’t batting ideas around.  I was vested in the outcome which, of course, meant that my opinion was not only right but the only way to  peace, harmony, growth, and inner happiness.

Does this sound familiar to anyone but me? I’m not sure of what comes next, but I have some thoughts.

Buddhism teaches me that my anxiety (translate suffering) is lessened any time I can let go of outcome. I fully realize that I have no control over what my friends do, yet somehow I continue the believe the myth that I can make life better for my children and grandchildren.

The truth is that they are all just like me….they are going to do whatever they decide to do no matter what. There is something in my family dynamic that makes the easy flow of ideas difficult.  It may have to do with me, since I pretty much resented input (which I considered to be mandates) from my parents and most of my children feel the same about my input.

Who knows? But, I think that ideas for solutions become advice when the concept of “should” replaces the concept of “could”. I really think that advice should only be given when I asked for. (And with the understanding that the thoughts are just that – additional points to ponder.)

Can you remind me of this when…?

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